New York City Declares Measles Public Health Emergency In Select ZIP Codes

De Blasio declares public health emergency over measles outbreak in Brooklyn mandates vaccination in Williamsburg ZIP codes

The New York City Department of Health has threatened to fine or even close USA yeshivas in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn if students who are not vaccinated against measles are allowed to attend classes.

The public health order makes the measles vaccine mandatory for people living in the affected areas of Brooklyn and fines will be issued to those who remain unvaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference.

"If people will simply cooperate quickly, nobody will have to pay a fine", de Blasio said.

Earlier this week, the city ordered religious schools and day care programs serving the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg to exclude unvaccinated students or risk being closed down.

The emergency order came as the city, a suburban ny county and some other parts of the nation grapple with a spurt in a disease the USA declared eradicated nearly two decades ago.

In January, one yeshiva broke compliance with the city mandate, leading to more than 40 new cases of the measles.

Most of the NY cases involved unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals, according to de Blasio's office.

The leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community support people getting vaccinated, but uptake of the MMR vaccine has been low in the community itself, with resistance being "fueled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighborhoods".

"To challenge the unsafe misinformation that is being spread by a group of anti-vaxxers, it's crucial that everyone around them be vaccinated to shield them from infection", Barbot said.

The Brooklyn outbreak has been traced to an unvaccinated child who became infected on a visit to Israel, which is also grappling with an outbreak, according to New York City's Department of Health.

It is the largest measles outbreak in the city since 1991.

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The commissioner is empowered by law to issue such orders in cases when they might be necessary to protect against a serious public health threat. At least 285 people have contracted the disease in the city since September, mostly in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighbourhood. Others remain convinced, against expert assurances, that vaccines are unsafe.

"We try to control our school, and we really strive to comply 100% with the Department of Health", he said.

"And it's everybody's option to do what he wants".

In a similar directive late past year amid an outbreak, the city ordered schools and child-care centers to keep unvaccinated students out of school.

"We have also received reports that there are people attending so called measles parties bringing children together to purposely get exposed to measles".

The reasons for the explosion of cases among members of insular, ultra-orthodox communities has more to do with their frequent contacts with Israel, which is undergoing its own measles crisis, combined with their insularity and mistrust of government.

Non-vaccinated minors were banned from public places in a bid to prevent the spread of the disease, and hundreds of people have now been vaccinated, according to authorities.

Since 1963, "widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era", the CDC said.

The highly contagious airborne pathogen produces symptoms including fever, cough, and a runny nose, and can cause diarrhea, ear infection, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death - with about 1 of every 1,367 kids infected dying due to fatal complications from measles. "You can be infectious four days before you actually develop the rash", said Barbot.

Infected persons should stay in isolation - staying home from school or work - during this time.

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